So I met Marcus Samuelsson again in April at National Geographic Museum. Are you tired of hearing me talk about him? I can’t help it.
Marcus inspires me. It’s not just his stories of fighting racism in order to find culinary jobs. His philosophy that food is more than physical sustenance resonates with me. To him food and making it is about community. This philosophy drives everything he does.
How can you not like a guy who wears argyle socks?
In May, I dragged my Norwegian born girlfriend to see Marcus Off Duty at National Geographic. She had never heard of Marcus. Yes, I know Marcus is Swedish. My girlfriend jokes that the food in Norway and Sweden are very similar. I thought she might enjoy hearing about Marcus’ childhood since they grew up in the same part of the world.
Of course she had to show off and speak Swedish with him during the book signing. Marcus was a bit surprised at first, but they quickly connected. Did I tell you I love my friend Ina? She’s fun and very creative. (See the Star Wars birthday party she threw for her son.)
Back to Marcus’ philosophy. He discussed how he started a farmer’s market in his Harlem neighborhood. That doesn’t sound like a big deal, but he made sure to find farmers who provided produce common in the cultures of that neighborhood. He also made sure that farmers accepted different forms of payment, including EBT cards. He lives in the neighborhood that his restaurant, Red Rooster is in. He’s not just there to cook food, but he wants to give back to this community.
Many times when I cook for my family, I don’t think past our animal need for food. But I should. I’m privileged enough that it’s my duty to think bigger. I remember during our early years as a family when we weren’t sure if we’d have enough money for groceries. Making sure we had a roof over our heads and electricity were more important. I clipped coupons like a crazy woman and got very creative with our meals.
Thankfully we no longer have to choose between paying the electric company and buying my kids fresh fruit. The frugality and creativity has never left me. I’m very aware of food costs when I create the recipes I share here. I don’t label them as frugal meals, but when I shop for ingredients, I think about this. There’s a stigma to eating frugally, especially if there’s a lot of boxed and processed foods involved. I’m not immune to the convenience of boxed macaroni and cheese on days when I’m just too tired.
Marcus has inspired me to share more of my frugal yet nutritious recipes with you. I haven’t shared many recipes this summer because I’ve been in a bit of a cooking rut. It’s hard to cook when your family isn’t there to taste it.
When the kids get back to school, I’ll have more recipes to share!
Check out my review of Marcus’ latest cookbook, Marcus Off Duty.
Thank you National Geographic for a ticket to see Marcus speak! The next time you’re in DC visit National Geographic Museum. It’s a hidden gem. They currently have an Indiana Jones exhibit and another about Monster Fish.